10 tips to make a finance podcast people will listen to

All ears
By Susan Burchill, staffer. 24 April, 2018
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You may be ready to embrace audio, but is your audience? In this infographic we’ve looked at the stats to give you an idea of whether a podcast will resonate with your audience and fit your brand purpose.

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Who’s doing it well?

Unsurprisingly, many of the most downloaded and talked-about podcasts have been created by media networks and experienced creative storytellers, for whom content is their daily bread.

The most famous example, the investigative journalism podcast Serial was the first to reach 5 million downloads in the iTunes store, and its second series, released over 2015 – 16, was downloaded 50 million times according to the show’s producers.

In the finance realm, Planet Money is probably the best-known example, a show about the global economy which is downloaded 1.4 million times each month. Its creator NPR is a producer and distributor of news and cultural programming.

Branded podcasts

Can a brand do their own Planet Money and succeed? Community bank Umpqua have made a series called Open Account, talking about “making, losing and living with money”. A former MTV News correspondent hosts it.

GE’s The Message sci-fi anthology, about decoding alien messages, has been downloaded almost 8 million times. It focuses on the story, not on GE as a brand.

eBay’s Open for Business talks about building a business from the ground up, and only has one connection to the brand per episode.

Morgan Stanley’s Ideas podcast tackles an intriguing business question per episode, “…or a persistent problem in the business world… and introduces us to people working in sometimes surprising corners of the realm of capital”. Morgan Stanley people are interviewed in some.

GE’s The Message sci-fi anthology, about decoding alien messages, has been downloaded almost 8 million times.

How do you get ears to yours?

It’s great that folks are all ears for audio, but if you produce your own, will they come? This Australian research tells us that people definitely are trialling new podcasts, with 1 in 3 listening to a new podcast in the past week; and 1 in 2 respondents indicating they discovered new podcasts via word-of-mouth recommendations.

Will yours be good enough for someone to recommend it? What’s going to connect with your audience, especially given all the other expertly-crafted content competing for their attention? (This Digiday article suggests branded podcasts doubled in numbers by end of 2017.)

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Focus on topics you’re passionate about and make sure your spokesperson/talent is equally, if not more passionate.
  • Make sure your talent is capable of taking people on a journey.
  • Remember the essentials of oral storytelling and aim to have your audience lose themselves in the discussion.
  • Invest in quality content, commit to it so it’s not seen as disposable.
  • Align the content to your brand’s purpose and values but remember to stay audience-centric; make sure you’re adding value for the listener. Find creative ways to engage your audience with your brand.
  • Your tone will inevitably feel intimate and conversational, but don’t be so informal and meandering that you’re testing your listener’s stamina.
  • People keep quoting a 2014 stat that says people stay engaged with a podcast for 22 minutes on average, but when you’re thinking about duration, the rule should always be: how long does it take to tell your story well? And take no longer than that.
  • Use experts to produce and edit it professionally and seamlessly to get the most story in the least amount of time. It needs to sound really polished.
  • Have a basic format so people know what to expect when, but be happy to veer off topic where it’s really entertaining/informative.
  • Don’t flood the podcast with ads, and don’t make the whole thing feel like an ad. As AdvertisingAge writer Corey Layton put it in her podcast predictions for 2017: “The non-negotiable foundation is for brands to give creators the freedom to do what they do best – create content that listeners seek out – rather than producing thinly veiled, brand-centric messaging that will be left on the shelf.”

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When Susan was a youngster she didn't know what she wanted to be, but somehow she fell into advertising; then digital was invented so she worked on websites for a while. From there it was a small leap over to TV producing, scriptwriting, promo writing, and some copywriting.... Then when content marketing became a 'thing', she somehow fell into that. It's worked out ok so far - luckily she's always landed on soft things.